Monday, June 7, 2010

New Cheese Maker#6 - Sharilyn Clowes

Sharilyn Clowes
You may remember Sharilyn from an article we did last month.  We showed you her pictures from A Fromagerie in the Pyrenees.  She and her husband, Brian, are back from their trip to Europe now and they have settled down in Ontario, Canada.  

Sharilyn had mentioned that she was interested in making cheese herself.  So, to thank her for letting us show you her pictures, we sent her one of our 30 Minute Mozzarella Kits.

Sure enough, she took right to it and made Mozzarella on her first attempt.  (She did call me at one point when she wasn't sure if the curd was right, but that was just the first time jitters.  She cruised right through while her husband documented the whole experience.)

Why did you want to make your own cheese?

There are many reasons why I want to make cheese myself.  First of all, I've always been fascinated with the idea.  I love cooking and am an avid do-it-yourselfer, so this seemed a natural next step.  Cheesemaking also seemed to be outside of the range of normal cooking and not something that many people, so I wanted to!  Both my husband and myself enjoy eating various cheeses, so why wouldn't we want to be involved in how it's created?  We also have the goal of starting our own self-sufficient farm and producing our own milk someday, so I wanted to start gaining some skills in processing milk.

Did it taste better than store-bought?

Unfortunately not my first batch...I had a few issues with the curd setting, and some difficulties with stretching so it didn't turn out quite right.  I still had the extreme satisfaction of making it myself, and knowing that it was preservative and additive free - that alone makes a big difference!  I used in on pizza, in lasagna and a few other recipes and it was still really good.  I learned a few things with the first batch and I know the next one will be much better.

Do you have any advice for folks who haven't done it yet?

Do it!  I had known about New England Cheesemaking Supply Co. for about the last 5 years and never ordered from them.  It was always in the back of my head, but I never took that step.  Once you get the supplies in your hands a whole new world opens up.

On the more practical side:  get a pair of cheesemaking gloves.  I didn't my first time, and I found the mozzarella stretching to be quite difficult.  Since I did the hot water bath method, the cheese got too hot for me to comfortably stretch with my bare hands - another reason why I think my cheese didn't turn out (as well) the first time.

Making Mozzarella!
Sharilyn stirs in the rennet while mugging for the camera.  What a multi-tasker!
Testing the curd.
Is this right?
This doesn't look like custard.  How am I supposed to cut it?
Sharilyn calls Jeri, "HELP!"  But, all is well.  Sometimes the curd just looks like that.  As long as you can strain it, you're good.
Now, she's got it.
Looks kinda like Mozzarella!
It's easier to grate when it's cold or even frozen, but Sharilyn is on a mission.
Pizza tonight!


Sara said...

Thanks so much! My curd always looks like this too--I have always worried what was wrong even though I get stretchy mozz in the end. Thank goodness for cheesecloth!

Linda said...

As a cheesemaker/teacher I found this to be THE BEST article on first time cheesemaking EVER written and illustrated! You did a great job showing the determination, frustration and exuberation of first time cheese making. Loved it, simply loved it!!!! Linda (Mom at Bookamer Family Farm)